Lower Cost, High Quality Universal Healthcare
Healthcare is a human right. I support universal healthcare as both a moral imperative to provide healthcare to those who don’t have it and good for the health and finances of people that do have healthcare. We spend the most of any advanced economy for healthcare, and yet our life expectancy is falling. I have family that depend on the ACA and have depended on the MassHealth system and are constantly worried about the attacks on their healthcare. Other family members living with disabilities and special needs only receive appropriate treatment because of the benefits of the ACA.
I join associations of doctors, nurses, and patient advocates in supporting a deliberative transition to a Medicare for All system where we cut out the middlemen in healthcare and put patients before profits. I will ensure Medicare is improved in this transition process, and this system incorporates or otherwise sustains essential Medicaid programs including for people living with disabilities and seniors. I also support people being able to continue to buy private health insurance as a supplement to the coverage for medically necessary services provided by Medicare for All— though no American will need to do so in order to receive high quality healthcare. In the interim, we need to lower premiums and copays and improve access to care; Massachusetts has among the highest premium costs in the country and the 3rd District has many communities underserved for both primary and specialist care.
My initial proposals:
Medicare for All: I will vote for the Conyers-Sanders “Medicare for All” bill, and will offer amendments to add critical details currently missing in the legislation on the specifics of an incremental expansion of Medicare and the sustainment of essential Medicaid programs including for people living with disabilities and seniors.
Cost controls for prescription drugs: We need to do what nearly every other advanced economy in the world does and put cost controls on prescription drugs, just like we do on any other service essential for life, like our public utilities.
Medicare must be able to negotiate the price of prescription drugs: This is common sense, an essential reform particularly for those with chronic conditions and our seniors, and a key step on the road to Medicare for All.
Prior to Medicare for All, further open up the opportunity for people to enroll in Medicare and Medicaid: We should increase the economies of scale for Medicare by giving small employers the option of covering their workers of any age through Medicare, allowing all 55-64 year old people to buy into Medicare to save on higher out of pocket costs for this age group, and give states the option to allow people without insurance to buy into Medicaid, which will in aggregate lower costs for many and stabilize insurance exchanges across the country.
Expand support to community health centers, urgent care clinics, and telemedicine: This is cost-effective and moves us toward the prevention model we need, enabling more lower-cost high-quality 24-hour care and reducing reliance on expensive emergency room care.
Protect and improve healthcare for veterans: I will defend the Veteran's Administration against attempts to privatize it or impose costs on veterans and their families. I will support legislation and additional resources to improve staffing and service hours at Bedford. As part of moving to single payer healthcare, I will explore ways to incentivize more community health centers to sign up as Veterans Choice Act community providers, in order to improve both healthcare delivery capacity and speciality care-- especially in the areas of women's health and LGBT health where VA capability has not caught up with the changing demographics of our vets. I will support investments in the VA Center for Innovation and other initiatives to explore process improvements, better online services, and ways to measure and incentivize effective, coordinated care, especially for veterans with multiple chronic physical and mental health conditions and/or substance dependency.
Ensure sustained support to CHIP – make funding permanent: Examine budgetary mechanisms to make CHIP not just permanently authorized but permanently funded as an entitlement under Medicare or another vehicle, ensuring nearly 200,000 Massachusetts kids are never used as a political pawn again.
Protect access to healthcare for women and LGBT people from attack by extremists: Use oversight and budget powers to resist and rollback administration rules that create a "license to discriminate" against women and LGBT people via conscience exemptions.